BRUSHING FOR HEART HEALTH
A RECENT STUDY LINKS GUM DISEASE TO HEART PROBLEMS
What if I told you that keeping your teeth clean and having healthy gums benefits your heart? It might change your perspective on flossing. According to a recently published study in Postgraduate Medical Journal, plaque and high-risk bacterial build-up on your gums that can lead to periodontal disease are also associated with cardiovascular disease. It’s a theory that many in the medical and dentistry fields have long suspected and promoted, but now a peer-reviewed BaleDoneen study has strongly supported this idea. It’s important to note that this recent study found an association with the disease — not a direct causation. Essentially, just because you have periodontal disease, it does not mean you will automatically develop heart issues or that proper brushing is required to prevent a heart attack. It just means that people with gum disease are more likely to have cardiac problems versus those who have healthy gums. The study is the first of its kind to identify high-risk bacterial periodontal disease as a contributor to cardiovascular diseases, but research has been finding links for years. A 2016 study that analyzed results compiled by other periodontal studies found that 7,000 people with periodontitis were twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks compared to those with healthy gums. And another American Heart Association report from 2017 highlights a Chinese study that found treating gum disease led to lower blood pressure among patients who were already predisposed to developing high blood pressure.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States, and periodontal disease impacts a majority of adults over 30 years old. So you can essentially kill two birds with one stone by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth. Instead of panic-brushing every hour, there are some easy ways to prevent periodontal disease, leading to a pain-free smile and a lower chance of heart disease. Cleaning twice a day keeps the periodontal disease away. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day is an easy way to keep your teeth and gums healthier. Some reports have claimed flossing benefits are bunk science, but other studies disagree. A nine-year study of more than 5,600 adults found that those who never flossed had a 30 percent higher death rate than those who didn’t. Who wants to challenge those odds over something relatively noninvasive? Put on your PJs and brush your teeth. Ever heard of morning breath? When you’re sleeping, your body shuts down nonessential tasks, and producing extra saliva to clean your teeth is one of them. Thus, your teeth get dirtier more rapidly overnight. In another mortality study, death rates among those who never brushed their teeth at night increased by 25 percent versus those who regularly did. Stay up-to-date on dental cleanings. Every three months your teeth should be professionally cleaned, or, if anything, you should follow the schedule your dentist sets up for you. Studies have shown that those who go to the dentist at least twice per year had mortality rates cut in half.
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